"As labourers in Thy vineyard
Still faithful may we be,
Content to bear the burden
Of weary days for Thee.
We ask no other wages,
When Thou shalt call us home,
But to have shared the travail,
Which makes Thy kingdom come."--Monsel.
It will be remembered that Bishop Crowther is a Yoruba by birth and parentage, and, as might be expected, there has ever been in his heart a special yearning for the blessings of the Christian faith to be vouchsafed to his own people and land. His visit to Abeokuta, in 184G, has already been referred to in these pages, when he was accompanied by that noble co-worker, Mr. Henry Townsend.
This worthy missionary, who has not long gone to his honoured rest, deserves something more than a mere reference in this record of labour for Christ in West Africa. He was a native of the cathedral city [140/141] of Devonshire, and his church in Abeokuta, being the gift of his many earnest friends, was called the Exeter Church. He was for six years a schoolmaster among the freed slaves at Sierra Leone; and prompted by a strong desire to explore the unknown regions of the Yoruba country, from which many of the escaped slaves, like the future Bishop of the Niger, had come, he started for Abeokuta, the headquarters of the nation. He was the first white man to enter its gates, and his reception by Shodeki, the king, was remarkable for its cordiality. The people were as a field white unto the harvest, so great was their desire for light and truth.
One striking instance of this must suffice. Mr. Townsend tells us in his journal: "Towards evening a large party encamped as on the previous evening, and after they had eaten and made themselves comfortable I spoke to them. I said, 'Do you know the true God who made us all, and preserves us day by day?' 'No; but we heard about ten years ago that white men knew Him, and we have wished they would come and teach us.' 'Do you want to know Him?' 'Yes.' 'Then you must ask God to send you teachers, and He will send them to teach and lead you in the right way of God.' They arose, and lifting up their hands, said, 'O God! send us teachers to teach us about Thee.' What more gratifying circumstance could there have been than this. We were clearly called to teach these people, and the result has further proved it. Many who were then in heathen darkness have since received the Gospel, and have died rejoicing in Christ, trusting in Him alone for salvation."
After this visit, Townsend returned to England, and [141/142] after being fully ordained, was appointed to the mission at Abeokuta, and with Crowther re-entered the city in 1846. From that time it became the field of his special labours, although Crowther from time to time assisted in the establishment of the native church. The Egbas, who had securely entrenched themselves in this city, were continually being attacked by their old and remorseless foes, the Dahomians; and although in seven different campaigns the enemy ravaged the towns of the country around, still Abeokuta held out successfully.
In these onslaughts by the king of Dahomey, whose cruel and bloodthirsty character had began to shock Europe, the Christian converts whenever outside of the city, fell into his hands, and suffered many trials. One of them, named John Baptist Dasalu, was made prisoner at the repulse of the Dahomey attack in 1851, and was for twelve nights fastened to the ground with forked sticks, and then, after cruel torture, was sold as a slave, and sent to Cuba, where, on the application of the English Government, he was released. Another Christian Egba suffered martyrdom by crucifixion like his Lord; and not a few others had their portion of persecution and captivity.
In connection with the atrocities of Gezo, the king of Dahomey, a very pleasing incident is on record of the escape of a little girl from an awful death. It was in 1850, when Commander Forbes of H.M.S. Bonetta, was charged with a special mission to the king to induce him to put down slavery in his kingdom. In this excellent quest he was unfortunately unsuccessful, and during his short stay in the [142/143] country, at the king's court, he saw with his own eyes what a number of lives were sacrificed to please the whim of this inhuman ruler. He was present at the custom known as Ek-que-noo-ah-toh-meh, at which sacrifice fourteen men in white dresses, with high red night caps, bound and placed in small canoes or baskets are Hung by the king's own hand over a precipice, and then decapitated by his servants below.
Two years before this the king's army had utterly destroyed Okeodan, a city of the Yoruba country, in the same manner as Crowther's native town was destroyed in his childhood. Twenty thousand captives formed the spoil of the conqueror; and among them was a little girl whose parents had been killed, and she was only spared for a special sacrifice. This child was given by the king to Commander Forbes to take back as a present to Queen Victoria. She was baptised by the name of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, and educated at the Church Missionary Female Institution at Sierra Leone. After a few years, at the Queen's direction, she was brought to England to finish her education, and was in the care of Mr. and Mrs. Schön at Chatham. She soon became greatly loved, being of a lively, quick disposition, and was really promising in her English, French, and German studies.
It is quite characteristic of the Sovereign Lady who so happily rules this realm, that this little Yoruba girl was never lost sight of by her, and at her Midsummer and Christmas holidays she was always at the Palace for a few weeks, returning with some new present from the Queen. Amongst others she had a gold watch, a turquoise ring, and a beautiful gold [143/144] bracelet with the words: "From Queen Victoria to Sarah Forbes Bonetta." She was specially invited when the Guards returned from the Crimea; and on the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales she had a ticket to the Royal Galleries, accompanied with suitable apparel.
She married at Brighton a leading Lagos merchant, and became Mrs. Davies, and her first child was named Victoria. On her return to her native country she became most useful in the mission work at Lagos, and died full of a joyful faith in her Redeemer, in September, 1880. The womanly sympathy of Her Majesty is so well known, that comment is unnecessary; but this brief but interesting incident must not close without an extract showing how the Queen received the news of the death of Mrs. Davies:--
"In August last (1880) Mr. and Mrs. Nicholson were staying at Sandown, in the Isle of Wight, and Mrs. Davies' daughter, Victoria (the Queen's godchild), who was in England for her education, was with them. While there the news arrived from Madeira that Mrs. Davies was seriously ill, and that she wished the Queen to be informed. This was done, and the following day Her Majesty sent for Victoria to come to Osborne. Just as she was starting thither with Mrs. Nicholson, the news came that her mother was dead."
Mrs. Nicholson writes: "I never shall forget the deep emotion shown by our beloved Queen when I gave her the letter announcing Mrs. Davies' death, and the motherly sympathy she expressed regarding her, saying with deep feeling, 'She was such a dear creature.'"
The constantly recurring wars have greatly [144/145] hindered the progress of the Mission; and during an outburst in 1867, all the missionaries were expelled, and the Mission premises destroyed. But in the providence of God the work was recommenced after the lapse of a few years; and besides the church at Abeokuta, a good work is being carried on at different points in the country.
No event, perhaps, is so full of pathetic interest as the passing away five years ago of the mother of Bishop Crowther. We are told that this mother in Israel never gave up entirely her native style of life, she eschewed the European costume, and used to sit by preference in the market-place at Lagos "like a true Yoruba woman." To her, after a life of ninety-seven years, the summons at last came; and "in a happy condition, full of joy to go to her Saviour," this aged saint passed to that land where partings, cryings, the weight of age, and the wrongs of slavery never vex again.
In reviewing the work of the Mission on the Niger, the practical mind of Bishop Crowther is stamped on everything. In dealing with native races the spiritual must be allied to the educational, and especially where the wise course is being adopted of preparing the converts themselves for work among their own people. The foolish but prevalent idea, that the African intelligence cannot develop under teaching, is at once exploded by the spectacle of such a work as is carried on at the Preparandi Institution at Lokoja, situate at the confluence of the Binue and Niger. This was started by the Bishop for the further training of native boys as catechists and schoolmasters. The stones to erect this substantial [145/146] building were collected from the hills around, and the 15,000 pieces were carried by women to the mason who had been specially sent from Sierra Leone for the purpose of the work. Everything was paid for, and the sight of a number of men and women engaged in industry, properly remunerated, was a significant feature of that district. The place is a perfect marvel to the natives. They cannot understand how the stones keep together for such a height; and as they look in wonder, say to each other, "White man pass every man; white man, he next to God." It is quite on the College plan, with tutors' residences, dormitories, class rooms, and a printing room, the gift of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Such a centre of spiritual and educational activity will influence to an untold extent the future of the West Coast of Africa.
An apt illustration of how a little tact will overcome a difficulty is given in the case reported by the Rev. Daniel Olubi, of Ibadan in the Yoruba territory. At a email outlying station, Ogbomosho, there is a mission belonging to the American Baptists, and on the occasion of the burial of one of the converts a great riot ensued, the missionary who was making the coffin having to fortify himself in his house against the religious intolerance of the mob. The chapel, however, was speedily demolished, and even the pieces were taken away, so that in this emergency the missionary applied to the Church Missionary station at Ibadan, and Mr. Olubi sent a native Catechist, Mr. I. Okusende, to arrange the difficulty. After much opposition he managed to secure an interview with the Bale or headman, and learnt from him that a bitter feeling [146/147] existed against the native Christians. They were accused of betraying the secrets of the Oro worship, and the Bale made many complaints which he had heard against them. This is what followed:
"Now why," said Mr. Okusende, "do you trouble yourselves about such things? Why give heed to these foolish reports? I beg," he continued, "that you the Bale and the Elders of Ogbomosko make two bags, long and large. One must be strongly sewn up, with a good thick bottom, but the other must be without a bottom. All reports and false accusations that would trouble you and agitate your town drop into the bag without the bottom, that they may fall through, but all beneficial and peaceful affairs put into the other." When he had finished, the Bale authorized his "Are Ago" (great chief) to welcome Mr. Okusende, and to wish him much blessing for the good message he had conveyed to them; and then himself added, "We are not vexed with the teachers, but with our own people who go down to them to be taught and who reveal secrets of Epingun, Oro," etc., (these are well-known Yoruba superstitions.) "Stop," said Mr. Okusende, interrupting him, "such a word belongs to the bag with the hole, drop it in." "Very well," the Bale replied, with a smile; and after a few words he declared that all the suspicions and misunderstandings were now removed out of the way. "The town elders and myself," he said, "have done with them. The Church is again free and open as before, and all may attend who choose, and we will help in the rebuilding of the chapel."
We would commend the preparation of these receptacles to the attention of the white men and [147/148] women at home, who, like the Bale of Ugbomosko, Bometimes forget that of evil speaking a spark will kindle a whole fire of discontent and sorrow.
Reference has already been made to John Okenla, the brave chief of Abeokuta, who led forth his besieged fellow-countrymen, and inflicted a severe defeat upon the army of the king of Dahomey. He became the leading lay member of the Church at Abeokuta, and founded that interesting little Christian community lying between the city and Otta. For many years he held the post of Christian Balogun, and was always ready to take an active part in good works.
His end was sudden, but peaceful. He had borne well the weight of his eighty years, and on the Saturday before his death had walked twenty-five miles, and ten more on the Sunday morning early, so as to be in time for service at his church. He partook of the sacrament, and on the Monday following was present at the Harvest Thanksgiving service, bringing his own offering (twenty thousand cowries), and laying it in front of the communion rails. On the Thursday, after only two hours' illness, John Okenla fell asleep in Jesus, and at his grave gathered the native choir to sing a special song of mingled sorrow and joy, composed by one of their number. It was a touching scene, the strong men weeping bitterly at the loss of their old and faithful comrade. But absent in the body was present with the Lord, and John Okenla had gone to join that glorious throng who without ceasing praise the Lord.
A little lower down the river Niger than Onitsha, is the Ibo country, where a mission station has been successfully started by the converts of the former [148/149] place. On Easter Day, 1882, a very interesting visit was made by about fifteen Christian Onitsha natives to this place, when five hundred people gathered together to hear the strangers tell the wonderful story of the Resurrection.
In the November following Bishop Crowther and Archdeacon Henry Johnson visited Obotsi, and held a service so impressive that the Archdeacon says, "My heart did leap for joy on beholding the glorious scene which unfolded itself before my eyes." An immense semicircular concourse of chiefs and people were prepared to receive them. The greatest attention was given to the sermon, the subject of which was the Prodigal Son, and all joined in the sentences of the Lord's Prayer, slowly read out to them in the Ibo tongue.
One of the interpreters spoke to the people also with eloquence and spirit, relating his experiences of Christianity at Sierra Leone, and begging them to find the Saviour. Quite 1,500 people were present, and a number of Christian native women acted as churchwardens in keeping order, and showing the congregation when and how to kneel. The Bishop was greatly encouraged with the result of his interview with some of his chiefs.
When the Bishop of Sierra Leone visited Port Lokkoh, and other places of his diocese, in 1883, he had an opportunity of talking with many of the chiefs and headmen of the district. The remarks of one of these were very significant, and showed a keen appreciation of Christian privileges. Our laws he admired because they made no difference between rich and poor, and of the Bible he spoke with great [149/150] enthusiasm. His closing sentence will bear repetition, "The paper of your Book is light, but its words are heavy."
The eldest son of Bishop Crowther, the Archdeacon of the Lower Niger, paid a visit to England in the spring of the year 1883, in order to purchase two new churches for the Brass River, the amount required having been collected by the native Christians themselves. These churches were constructed of iron, carried in sections to Africa, and subsequently transferred in canoes to the places alloted to them up the river. When the church was commenced to be erected at Nembe, a vast concourse of people assembled to witness it rising piece by piece from the ground. The fixing of plates, equivalent to stone laying in England, was a scene to be remembered, and the special service which preceded it will not be soon forgotten by the assemblage of natives which gathered round. The chiefs and their wives, three hundred and fifty in number, formed a group round the spot where the banner of the Church Missionary Society waved in the wind. The native Clergy in their surplices, and the Catechist, occupied the small platform in the centre of the group; and after some devotional exercises, two leading chiefs, William Kennmer and Christopher Iwowari, members of the Church, spiked down the two corner plates, and the impressive formula, beginning "In true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ," was read by the Archdeacon. After a solemn prayer, committing the interest of the new sanctuary to the God of all grace and truth, whose house it was to be, all present rose and sang the Doxology.
 It is a pleasing feature in the work of this Church, that a strong choir is gathered; and several beautiful hymns, such as Bickersteth's "Peace, perfect peace," and "Come to Jesus," are now translated into their own tongue.
In 1883, in the course of his pastoral visitation, Bishop Crowther accompanied Josiah Obuyanwuru, a Christian native, to Obitsi. They had with them nine female communicants, besides a number of young persons, and arrived at their destination in time to take the morning service in the new chapel built by the converts there, helped by generous and willing assistance from Onitsha. The building was of commodious size, thatched all along its sixty feet with bamboo matting. The service was begun by the singing of a hymn translated into their own language, read out to them verse by verse by George Anya-Ebunam, the interpreter. Then Josiah Obuyanwuru asked that some one would lead in prayer, and one of the female converts immediately offered an earnest supplication, praying for the conversion of the people, and specially mentioning the names of several of the leading men.
Afterwards Bishop Crowther preached on that watchword of missions, "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations." The Bishop, in his own words, thus describes what follows: "After long speaking at the service, together with six miles' walk before on a gradual ascending land, I needed a little quiet rest for an hour or so, which I had, when a message came from Atta, one of the chiefs who was present at service, that he would be very glad to see me at his house, to which I consented to go. After the [151/152] accustomed etiquette of offering the kola nuts and palm wine as marks of friendship and kind reception, the subject was broached, namely, their wish to be correctly informed whether what the Onitsha converts had told them in their preaching was correct, that, when any of their chiefs or persons of rank die, they should not keep the body for many days, during which time they keep up firing guns, drumming, and dancing until they obtain a slave for human sacrifice to be buried with the dead. The Christians never did such things, but quietly bury their dead as soon as possible. I confirmed the teaching of the converts as being quite correct, that at no death of a Christian in any part of the world would a human being be killed to be buried with the dead, how honourable soever the dead might have been in his lifetime, because this act is a great abomination in the sight of God; neither would the relations of the dead make that an occasion of drumming, dancing, and firing guns for days, which I endeavoured to explain to them as utterly useless to the dead as marks of honour; that if the dead be a Christian, as soon as his soul leaves the body he is carried by the angels into heaven, where he will enjoy everlasting happiness with Christ, who has washed the soul clean with His own most precious blood."
Death has been at work in different parts of the Niger district, gathering among the native converts many a shock of corn fully ripe. One of these was an old man, James Odernide, who was converted under the ministry of Mr. Hinderer at Ibadan. After thirty-five years of consistent witnessing for Christ, he was called hence after a long illness patiently borne. On [152/153] one occasion, when the ministers were going to pray with him, he said, "You must not ask God to spare my life longer, for I should like much rather to be with Him before long." He longed for release, that he might enjoy the blessedness of being with Christ for evermore. Very full his heart was one morning when he exclaimed, amid his pain and weakness, "Would to God I were with Him to-day! "
It is to be feared that too often the white man, when for the purposes of trade or exploration he enters the country of the heathen, does not show much evidence of the Christianity of the land from which he has come. He finds himself in the midst of a people who, degraded as they are, have a religion, and stand in awe of the god whom they ignorantly worship; but, although he has been brought up in the midst of surroundings of great enlightenment, there is no fear of God before his eyes. Thus it is that many natives learn, even before the missionary comes to them with the glad tidings of salvation, to despise the Christianity of the white man.
Again and again have Crowther's missionaries had to deplore the baneful results of the alcoholic drink exported from England to these heathen lands. Dense as is the darkness of superstition and cruelty among the poor people, we are, by our rum and gin, blotting out every lingering gleam of humanity and goodness from their lives and character. When the barrel has gone before the Bible, or after it, for the matter of that, the work of teaching the precious truths of the Christian faith becomes exceedingly difficult. That it is against the wish of the native rulers will be abundantly shown by the letter from a [153/154] Mohammedan king which we here transcribe. The original is in the Haussa language, written by Maliki, Emir of Nupé, on the Niger, two years ago, addressed to the Rev. C. Paul, a native missionary, to be handed to Bishop Crowther. The translation runs as follows:
"Salute Crowther, the great Christian minister. After salutation, please tell him he is a father to us in this land; anything he sees will injure us in all this land, he would not like it. This we know perfectly well.
"The matter about which I am speaking with my mouth, write it; it is as if it is done by my hand, it is not a long matter, it is about Barasa (rum or gin). Barasa, Barasa, Barasa! my God, it has ruined our country, it has ruined our people very much, it has made our people become mad. I have given a law that no one dares buy or sell it; and any one who is found selling it, his house is to be eaten up (plundered); any one found drunk will be killed. I have told all the Christian traders that I agree to anything for trade except Barasa. I have told Mr. McIntosh's people to-day, the Barasa remaining with them must be returned down the river. Tell Crowther, the great Christian minister, that he is our father. I beg you, Malam Kipo (Rev. C. Paul, native missionary), don't forget this writing, because we all beg that ho (Bishop Crowther) should beg the great priests (Committee C.M.S.) that they should beg the English Queen to prevent bringing Barasa into this land.
"For God and the prophet's sake, and the prophet His messenger's sake, he (Crowther) must help us in this matter, that of Barasa. We all have confidence in him, he must not leave our country to [154/155] become spoiled by Barasa. Tell him may God bless him in his work. This is the mouth-word from Maliki, the Emir of Nupé."
In some cases, however, where the Gospel has been already proclaimed in districts, Christian believers are gathered together, and they gladly welcome any who are in the fellowship of their common faith. A very interesting incident of that is related of one of the stations of the Niger. There, as we have seen, native workers are in charge of the mission work, and labour earnestly for the salvation of their brethren according to the flesh. On one occasion one of the lay agents of the Church Missionary Society, an European, was visiting the great waterway of the Western Coast, and being one evening at one of the stations, he took part in the devotional services. He found, as is the case everywhere, the natives were very fond of singing; and to their great delight he sang in solo some of those hymns with which we are so familiar in England, such as "Safe in the arms of Jesus," "Hold the Fort," and others. The effect of this may be understood by the words of the native missionary to him afterwards. He said, "You greatly astonished our people last evening. Though the station has been in existence twenty years, you are the first white man that they or I have heard pray or sing here. We always tell the people that we are sent and supported by good white people in England to teach them the Way of Life. But they, from having seen the white traders so busily engaged about their trade, and never attending or taking part in religious services, have drawn the conclusion that whilst teaching, preaching, and worship are part of the white man's [155/156] religion, trading and getting money must be the most important part of it, and to this, therefore, he attends himself; but that preaching and teaching, and generally the spreading of his religion, being matters of minor importance, he pays black men to attend to for him."
Surely such an impression, which is generally prevalent on the West Coast of Africa, should not be allowed to continue to exist; and it is to be hoped that the time will come when the increased interest in mission work, and greater piety of our business men both at home and abroad, will prove that we do not in word only, but in very deed, "seek first the kingdom of heaven."
In Lagos satisfactory progress is being made, and the Native Pastorate Church, which is one of the many blessed fruits of the work of the Church Missionary Society, is distinctly gaining ground. In the Ebute Ero Church, the members of which are all natives of Lagos, a very interesting and encouraging event occurred in September, 1878. The chiefs as they joined the sanctuary, encouraged others to follow them; especially was this the case with chief Ogubiyi, after whom came king Tiwo, of Isheri. This royal personage was intimate with another chief, Jacob Ogubiyi--who entered into fellowship with the Saviour under the ministrations of a native missionary, the Rev. James White, and whose idols are now at Salisbury Square.
When this Christian chief attended the early morning service at the church, it was the custom of king Tiwo to wait for him to come out, and it ia recorded that it was during his tarrying in the [156/157] doorway that some words from the native minister fell upon his ear, which led to his conversion. He was placed on trial for the baptismal rite, and in due time the hour arrived when he should thus solemnly, in the presence of his own people, enter Christ's visible Church. The description of this scene was given by a Lagos correspondent to the African Times at that period, from which we quote the following account:--
"Ebute Ero Church was not only crowded within, but the church premises were densely thronged. Among the crowd were several heathens and Mohammedans who came to witness the ceremony. After the prayers the choir was singing a special hymn, when the Rev. William Morgan entered the communion rail, and king Tiwo came forward, suitably attired, and stood in the front of the communion rail.
"After the Baptismal Service had been read, Tiwo knelt down. It was a solemn, impressive scene, and instructive to all, including our brethren, the heathens and Mohammedans, when Mr. Morgan (one of the sponsors), in the native tongue, said, 'Name this person,' and Mr. Maser gave the name 'Daniel Conrad Tiwo,' and he was baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity. When the water was poured upon his head, and the sign of the Cross made upon his forehead, the heathen outside looking on, exclaimed in Yoruba, 'Olurun' (i.e. God), and the Mohammedans 'Allah' (i.e. God), 'is great.' The sermon was preached by Mr. Morgan.
"Tiwo soon gave evidence of his change of heart by obeying the Divine command, 'Freely ye have received, freely give.' He knew that as Christians we were bound to do it by the examples of believers, both in [157/158] the Jewish and the Christian churches. Besides other contributions, he freely gave £100 to the Ebute Ero Church fund, and £25 to the building of the parsonage house; and it was announced at the Bible meeting on the 9th inst., that he gave two guineas as a thank-offering.
"On hearing of his admission to the visible church of Christ by baptism, his subjects and friends from Isheri, Otta, and districts about Lagos, came to see him, and he told them of the blessings of God; and on Sunday, the 15th inst., no less than 560 persons, male and female, including heathens and Mohammedans, went with him to church, 'and offered thanksgivings for late mercies vouchsafed unto him.'"
To all who earnestly desire the extension of the kingdom of Christ, this incident must convey a lively sense of encouragement and gratitude. When it is remembered that these are all black people, both ministers and congregation, and that it was at this very spot years before that Bishop Crowther was carried a poor slave boy, the reader is constrained to say, "What hath God wrought! "
The record of the closing years of his life is soon told. During a brief stay in this country he wrote, in his little room at Salisbury Square, that introductory letter with which these pages begin, invested with a touching interest now that the hand which penned it is still in death. After returning to his diocese for about a year, he made one more visit to England to consult a specialist about his eyes, and this was the last time that his face was seen here. Soon after his return to the Niger, troubles arose there and the venerable Bishop strove with tact and patience to restore unity between the native and [158/159] European clergy in his diocese. Thus the sky was cloudy as his sun went down in the west. But ho had fought a good fight, and his purity of life and loyalty to Christ and His Church, had given him, in the retrospect of so long a life, cause for thankfulness and peace. On the last day of the old year, 1891, at Lagos, the old man passed away.
The Church Missionary Society, to which he owed so much, and for which he had laboured so faithfully, have placed on record that: "As regards the world, it is the poorer for his removal. From his earliest years, in the providence of God, Samuel Crowther's lot was cast amidst some of the saddest manifestations of its wickedness and of the depravity of the human heart; and in this environment he patiently and consistently carried on the battle against evil, maintaining throughout an unblemished reputation. As regards the Church, he has most courageously fulfilled for nearly thirty years, to the best of his abilities (and they were of no mean order), and with unremitting diligence and devotion, the duties of a Bishop under circumstances of almost unexampled difficulty, and in face of very exceptional discouragements and disappointments. As regards himself, we may justly say that his life is a conspicuous proof of the power of the Gospel, and of the continued presence of the Spirit of God in Christ's Church."
The lives of other servants of God may seem more heroic, but his was conscientious and faithful welldoing; so unobtrusive was his character that the worker is always lost in the work. He was unspoilt by an office which often proves a giddy pinnacle for many men; his humility was perhaps his chief characteristic. Now that he is gone, Africa has lost [159/160] one of its most honoured sons, and the missionary cause throughout the world a faithful witness for the Cross. Being dead he yet speaketh; and beckons to those in Christian England to come over and help his beloved Africa, for whose welfare his long life was one labour of love.
From Afric's wilderness there comes a cry,
A plea for help and mercy, o'er the wave,
The voice of souls in sorrow, and for whom
The gracious Saviour shed His blood to save.
Is there a darker spot the round world o'er?
Surely this land in deepest gloom doth lie,
The cruelty of hard oppression's yoke
Blights all the black man's days, until he die.
Who shall depict the miseries of the slave?
The galling fetter and the grinding toil,
The fatal march, the dying and the dead,
Where blood of countless victims stains the soil.
Is there no pity left in English hearts?
Can we unmoved the tale of sorrow hear?
God of our fathers! give us grace and love
The burden of our brothers' care to bear.
Bring to this deeply stricken people news
Of Christ's great love, the balm of Gilead pour
Into those wounded hearts, He, only He
Who died for sinners, can their sickness cure.
Shine, Sun of Righteousness, on Afric's land,
Break Thou the fetter, set the bondsmen free,
So shall the heathen to Thy Kingdom come,
And lift their sweet thanksgivings unto Thee.